Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City: Disappointment for City as WSL title goes Chelsea’s way

Manchester City missed out on the Women’s Super League title despite a 2-1 win against Aston Villa.

Goals from Mary Fowler and Lauren Hemp weren’t enough for the visitors, with a 6-0 win for Chelsea at Old Trafford stopping Gareth Taylor’s side from winning their second-ever league title.

As it happened

The travelling City fans would have been aware that title rivals Chelsea took an early lead at Old Trafford to put themselves in the driver’s seat just minutes into the final day.

For the players, the focus was on nothing but their own performance, knowing that without all three points, the title would be out of reach.

City’s start was less than ideal, with an injury to Laura Coombs the biggest talking point of the opening 15 minutes. The experienced midfielder was replaced by 20-year-old ex-Villa player Laura Blindkindle Brown.

The Citizens came extremely close to an opener through the head of Alana Kennedy, but the ball skimmed over the crossbar to keep the scoreline level.

With the very next attack, Man City found their breakthrough. A beautiful first touch from Mary Fowler allowed her to turn and smash the ball into the back of the net.

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The goal gave the visitors the confidence they had yet to demonstrate, gaining greater control of the midfield and carving out more opportunities in and around the Villa penalty area.

Defender Sarah Mayling’s brave block denied Lauren Hemp from a simple tap-in at the back post as City’s need for more goals continued.

The crossbar played its part in the title race for the second time, denying Blindkilde Brown a huge goal against her former side.

The final chance of the half fell to Jess Park, but an uninspired attempt made for a simple save for Anna Leat.

Despite leading at half-time, Gareth Taylor and his players would have felt extremely disappointed with just the one goal scored – especially as Chelsea were four-to-the-good against Manchester United.

All that Man City could do in the second half was score as many goals as possible, but the belief and confidence withered away with every goal that Chelsea scored.

Minutes after play restarted, a fifth goal at Old Trafford left City needing no less than seven goals to take the title to the Joie Stadium.

Legend of the game Steph Houghton was introduced to the pitch in the 66th minute for the final time of her illustrious career.

Despite dominating possession, a lack of urgency from the visitors allowed Aston Villa to find their way back into the match and score a massive goal in favour of Chelsea.

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England international Rachel Daly’s bottom-corner finish all but handed the title to Emma Hayes’ Blues on a gravely frustrating afternoon for City.

The visitors went back into the lead through an outstretched leg from Hemp but, despite regaining the lead, the goal was nothing but a consolation in the context of the WSL title.

A final scoreline of 2-1 at Villa Park saw Chelsea crowned Barclays Women’s Super League Champions via goal difference for the fifth successive season after their 6-0 demolition of Manchester United.

It was a frustrating afternoon for Manchester City who failed to take advantage of their domination of proceedings. Gareth Taylor’s side finish the 2023/24 WSL season second in the league table.

The lineups

AVL: Leat; Mayling, Patten, Turner, Maritz; Nobbs, Taylor; Lehmann, Dali, Hanson; Daly

MCI: Keating; Casparij, Aleixandri, Greenwood, Kennedy; Park, Hasegawa, Coombs; Fowler, Kelly, Hemp